Today it’s been one hundred and twenty-two days since I flew from Australia to Los Angeles…it’s a weird feeling because part of me enjoys being with family and friends but at the same time I miss Melbourne.
The really strange thing is what my heart misses more than anything else (other than the obvious answer of friends) is cappuccino. I didn’t drink coffee upon arrival in Australia during 2007 but a few weeks later drank my first Aussie cappuccino and from that point on they were an integral part of my life (you can read more about the experience here). Of course what I miss isn’t the caffeine or sugar rush, but instead conversations with friends over large mugs of coffee.
During July my parents visited me in Melbourne and one afternoon we visited the small suburb where I lived for the first two years. Other than my first home the other place we drove by was the Gloria Jeans Cafe in a local shopping centre. For twenty-four months that coffee shop was my place to study, relax, or connect with others and a source of great encouragement, go there today and ask them for a John Wilburn they will still give you a large cappuccino.
Then there was Strudels, a cafe where I met with other Missionaries at 7:00 every Thursday morning. Those meetings became highlights of my week as men who served the Lord for many years in the Aussie culture helped me deal with the stress and crisis experiences that Satan threw my way. The greatest blessings of those Strudels meetings was the realization that I wasn’t the only one who experienced those struggles; there is a huge amount of comfort in hearing a Missionary say, “Well let me tell you how the Lord helped me through that situation.”
My love affair with cappuccino doesn’t stop there either; there was the McDonald’s where I met friends each week to discuss life, a local cafe where countless hours (and gallons of coffee) were spent discipling or mentoring Believers, and the local library where I teach computers that makes the best cappuccino in town.
If you ever visit Melbourne one of the first things you notice is how many coffee shop’s or cafes can be found; there’s at least one in every shopping centre (five in the one closest to my house)….and each one is full of people talking. That’s what I truly miss, the Aussie culture places an emphasis on simply slowing down and spending time with friends while having a cuppa, something that you rarely see in other Countries.
In early 2007 I went to a Pastors house following a morning Church service for lunch expecting to be there an hour or maybe two, then staying four hours. All the time wasn’t spent eating of course; there was dinner, coffee, desert, watching sports, a board game, and many other activities during the afternoon. I am not saying that being focused or motivated to work isn’t important, but more and more these days I miss cappuccino’s and Sunday afternoon lunch.